Boldin leaving 'Noles


Published: Thursday, January 9, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 8, 2003 at 10:48 p.m.

TALLAHASSEE

Florida State receiver Anquan Boldin told coaches Wednesday he'll pass up his final year of eligibility to enter the NFL draft.

Junior linebacker Michael Boulware decided to stay for another season.

Boldin, who threw for one touchdown and caught a pass for another playing quarterback during part of the Sugar Bowl loss to Georgia last week in New Orleans, had gone back and forth on a decision in recent weeks.

The 6-2, 226-pound Boldin said he felt like it was time to move on.

''It came down to the pros and cons and what was the best decision for me,'' he said.

Boldin caught 65 passes for 1,011 yards and 13 touchdowns in Florida State's disappointing 9-5 season.

''He has been an inspiration for our football team,'' coach Bobby Bowden said. ''We will miss him, but that gives someone an opportunity to step in there.''

Boldin, 22, finished his career with 118 catches for 1,790 yards. His 21 touchdown catches tie seventh place with Jesse Hester in Florida State's career record book.

Bowden, who also loses receivers Talman Gardner and Robert Morgan to graduation, will have to rebuild the receiving corps.

Sophomore Craphonso Thorpe is the most experienced of the returning receivers. He had 16 catches for 337 yards and three touchdowns and caught a 40-yard TD pass in the Sugar Bowl.

GEORGIA

Musa Smith will enter the NFL draft after becoming the first Georgia running back since 1992 to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season.

Assistant coach Mike Bobo said the junior informed the staff of his decision Tuesday after returning to Athens from his family home in Elliotsburg, Pa.

''He just felt he was ready for the NFL,'' said Bobo, who began working with the team's running backs after Tony Pierce resigned at midseason. ''We think he's physical enough to play at that level.''

The 6-2, 226-pound Smith bounced back from two injury-plagued seasons to rush for 1,324 yards and eight touchdowns this season, helping Georgia win its first Southeastern Conference championship since 1982.

Smith was named Sugar Bowl MVP after running for 145 yards in a 26-13 win over Florida State.

"Obviously, it's going to hurt us experience-wise,'' Bobo said. ''He relied heavily on him. But we've got some good guys backing up.''

Tony Milton will get first crack at the job. The redshirt freshman carried 82 times for 314 yards.

Milton started one game when Smith was sidelined by a broken thumb, rushing for 78 yards on 18 carries to help the Bulldogs beat Kentucky.

AUBURN

Tigers tight end Robert Johnson says he will forgo his senior season and will enter the NFL draft.

''My parents and I have been praying about this and came to the decision it was the best thing to do,'' Johnson said at a news conference Wednesday.

Johnson, from Montgomery, finished his Auburn career with 59 catches for 758 yards and 10 touchdowns.

He said he hopes to prove wrong projections that he would be drafted no higher than the second round. He said he has not signed with an agent.

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